Hockey World Cup 2018: Women, the trendsetters

Argentina, China and Ireland are countries where women’s hockey helped spread the sport’s popularity.

"Hockey is becoming popular (in China) because of the way the women's team is playing," acknowledges China's men's team coach Sang Ryul Kim.

The 14th edition of the Hockey World Cup features a few teams which have made good progress following the success of their national women’s sides. Argentina, China and Ireland are such countries where women’s hockey led the way and achieved medals at top-level events to spread the sport’s popularity.

In Argentina, hockey used to be a “girls’ sport.” The Argentine women’s team has won two World Cup titles and secured five other podium finishes from 1974 till date. It has also got four Olympic medals to raise the status of hockey in the country. The Los Leones men, who bagged a bronze medal in the 2014 World Cup and a gold in the Rio Olympics, had to catch up.

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Even without much success in recent times, the Argentine women are placed fourth in the world. The men are at second.

Rising in popularity

China, too, has been doing well in women’s hockey for quite some time. The country caused a ripple when its women, who had picked up a bronze medal in the 2002 World Cup, claimed the silver medal on home turf in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Argentina men's hockey team, having taken a cue from its women's team, is now the World No. 2. Photo: Getty Images   -  Getty Images

 

Sang Ryul Kim, the coach of the Chinese men’s team here, acknowledged the fact. “Hockey is becoming popular because of the way the women’s team is playing. After they got the silver medal in the Beijing Olympics, they are promoting hockey,” said Kim.

The Chinese women are currently ranked 10th in the world, while the men’s outfit is 17th.

‘Inspiration’

Ireland presents another instance of women’s hockey’s progress. Ireland’s women surprised everyone when they took the silver medal after losing to Netherlands in this year’s World Cup in London. “They dreamt big. They had a goal and a dream that no one else had thought possible and I saw some inspiration for us in this tournament,” said 10th-ranked Ireland men’s team captain David Harte about his country’s eighth-placed women’s side.

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In some top hockey countries such as Netherlands, Australia, England, Germany, Spain and New Zealand, the women’s sport has also carved a niche for itself.